Are you considering founding your own company, or working at an early-stage venture? Adeel Mallick shares what you need to know to embark on this path.
About Adeel: Adeel Mallick (MBA ’19) always knew he had builder DNA. He chose MIT Sloan because of the thought leadership around innovation and entrepreneurship, along with the ability to double down at the intersection of real estate and technology. But now, almost 3 years since graduating, Adeel is the Founder & CEO of Humming Homes – a venture backed startup transforming the home services space. But this journey did not happen overnight. In fact, Adeel spent much of his early career preparing for this role, strategically gaining the domain expertise, experience, and “reps” to succeed in the fast-paced, competitive, and turbulent world of entrepreneurship.
How did your career path lead to becoming a Founder?
I am the son of an entrepreneur. When I was 10 years old, my father (at the time was 42) started his real estate and civil engineering services business in our basement. That’s when my journey started – he’s been an inspiration to where I am today and what it takes to build from the ground up. Separately, I spent the last decade across management consulting, real estate private equity, getting my hands dirty in our family’s real estate and civil engineering services business prior to MIT Sloan. During and after my time here, over the last 4+ years I’ve spent at the intersection of real estate and technology – across companies like Katerra and working with venture capital firms such as Sound Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. All of my experiences have culminated into this very moment today, of founding and leading Humming Homes.
What is Founder DNA?
This is a great question, and something every entrepreneur should consider. First of all, they should ask themselves two questions:
- Do I have Founder DNA? (i.e. Do I have what it takes to build?)
- What kind of Founder DNA do I have? (i.e. What type of founder am I?)
Founder DNA is what it takes to power through the ups and downs as an entrepreneur. It is a passion for starting something new, the determination to lead the business through all kinds of challenges and difficulties, the ability to think quickly and solve problems, to find the right business partners; and above all, to be able to ‘sell’ your business to the right financial partners, and to position your business for a successful fundraise.
That said, I have witnessed several types of Founder DNA, particularly within the teams of Founders that I know. You have the Founders who are very product-focused. They create an amazing product, perhaps a highly technical product, but they might not excel in selling it. You might have a Founder who is an exceptional business strategist, or an excellent salesperson, but less well-versed in the technology. In this case, it helps to think through what kind of Founder DNA you have, to understand what strengths you bring to your company, how you want to round your leadership team in order to be successful in building a world class team and partnering with incredible capital partners and VCs along the way.
What is the most important thing for a Founder to know?
First of all, the most important for Founders to prepare for is: how difficult it is. Talk with entrepreneurs – either through the Martin Trust Center, Alumni Advisors Hub or other Founders you get connected to – so you are prepared before taking the leap. Also, I recommend not jumping in too early in your career. Most Founders are first-time entrepreneurs so it helps to have some experience with regards to managing people, hiring, and executing 1) know where you spike highest and 2) see around the corners to avoid land mines.
Above all, the most important thing for any Founder to know is: how to sell and how to think through positioning yourself for a fundraise. This is often the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur, and selling and fundraising are essential for the survival of your company. Without those skills, you won’t be able to grow a healthy business.
Now that you’re leading your own company, what are early-stage companies looking for when they recruit?
This is interesting, because early-stage companies are not always looking for entrepreneurs like themselves. Early-stage companies are often looking for functional experts. If they already bring the Product and Entrepreneurship DNA, they might be seeking support with sales, marketing, business development, and operations. With small companies, they are often looking for someone who is an expert in those areas, who has experience and can help them hit the ground running and get over the hurdles of an early-stage business. Absolutely, they are looking for smart people who take initiative, but they are looking for self-starters with demonstrated functional expertise who can come in and really own a function in a way that complements the Founders’ DNA.
How do you identify what DNA you’re bringing to a team? How do you identify the DNA of the team you might be joining?
Do you have a passion for technology? Strategy? Business development? Think about the work experiences you’ve had so far: what energizes you; where do you have ideas for the future? At the root of that passion and energy is your Founder DNA.
When you’re considering joining a startup team, look at the backgrounds of those on the team. Check out their LinkedIn profiles and any articles or media coverage. If the founders have strong technical backgrounds or product development experience, they are likely focused on the product, and may need support in strategy, marketing, business development, or other functions. Conversely, you might have a team that already has an exceptional business strategist, or an excellent salesperson, in which case they may need team members who can dive deep into technology and operations.
Thank you, Adeel, for sharing these valuable insights that will help new entrepreneurs find their fit!
Adeel Mallick, MBA ’19, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Humming Homes, re-imagining the way homeowners manage their most important asset — their home. HH is a subscription based home management offering, powered by software and people, packaged for any homeowner. Adeel graduated in 2019 from MIT Sloan’s MBA program, knowing he wanted to combine real estate and technology into property technology. Humming Homes was founded in 2020 by Adeel Mallick, Kyle Carnes, and serial Entrepreneur, Kevin Ryan (Founder & CEO of AlleyCorp). HH has raised close to $10M in venture funding since inception, and is live in 2 regions (Tri-state, South Florida) across 5 markets, and is scaling towards national expansion.